Traces of “Carnivalesque” in the ihsan Oktay Anar’s novels
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İhsan Oktay Anar (b. 1960), one of the most extraordinary authors in the field of Turkish literature, published his first novel in 1995. In this study, I analyze all of Anar’s seven published novels—Puslu Kıtalar Atlası (1995), Kitab-ül Hiyel (1996), Efrâsiyâb’ın Hikâyeleri (1998), Amat (2005), Suskunlar (2007), Yedinci Gün (2012), and Galîz Kahraman (2014)—in the light of Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1895–1975) theory of carnival and the carnivalesque in order to establish how the elements of the carnival are situated within these novels. The carnival or carnivalesque is a “protogenre” that, from the time of the earliest agricultural societies to the present day, has been produced collectively by the people and that contains within itself universal values. The theory of the carnival aims to use popularly produced humor and grotesque images to upend hierarchical structures and norms of thought, which grow tyrannical with the authority they obtain from the power of law; which in fact speak with the very language of authority; and which attempt to render life static by means of rules and regulations. The carnival is scandalous, bizarre, and has a structure that fits neatly into no definition, and all of these elements have emerged in literary texts as well. The novels of İhsan Oktay Anar can be read in the light of the theory of the carnival inasmuch as they feature characters whose stunted, exaggerated, and deformed bodies undergo a process of caricaturization; humorous elements that place morality and propriety in abeyance by fashioning different points of contact with life; a language that aims to crack through the very shell of language by going beyond the standards of official language; and a dynamic structure that aims to produce novel meanings. In this study, the elements of the carnival present in Anar’s novels have been specified and exactly how these elements shape the universe of meaning in these texts has been determined. The ultimate aim of the study is to show that the carnivalesque—which has been theorized largely in relation to Western values, culture, and norms of belief—is also present in the texts of the contemporary Turkish author İhsan Oktay Anar.